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Mysterious tradition ends

One of the more enduring and mysterious traditions in America has been the "Poe Toaster."

Starting at least in the 1940s, a man dressed in black with a white scarf and wide-brimmed hat has visited the original Baltimore gravesite of Edgar Allan Poe on the famed writer's Jan. 18 birthday and left three roses and a half-filled bottle of cognac.

That tradition, it seems, is nevermore.

For the third year in a row, the man in black failed to show and offer his tributes to the writer of gothic tales, such as "The Pit and the Pendulum," and poems, such as his most famous work, "The Raven." Poe, who died in Baltimore at age 40 in 1849, is credited with writing the first modern detective story -- "The Murders at the Rue Morgue."

Poe fans who have gathered -- some for decades -- at the cemetery and stayed up all night to catch a glimpse of the mysterious stranger that saluted the master of the macabre are disappointed. And many who have read about this annual tradition are disappointed that it has ended with no revelation of who the man in black was.

But perhaps it is fitting that the mystery ends this way. In our information age, there are so few secrets that can be kept. It appears that the man in black's final tribute to Poe was managing to do just that.

-- The Albany Herald Editorial Board